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Francis J. Thompson Collection [1930-1989]

Francis J. Thompson was born in New York City in 1907, and received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Columbia University. Between 1931 and 1941 he taught public speaking at the City College of New York, studied at New York University, and traveled to Dublin to complete his dissertation, "Fenianism and the Celtic Renaissance." Shortly after receiving his doctorate, Dr. Thompson was subpoenaed by the Rapp Coudert Committee of the New York State Legislature, investigated, and then suspended and fired by the CCNY for misconduct related to alleged Communist Party membership. He won reinstatement in December 1947 in a case covered by many histories of academic freedom. During the World War II period (1943-1946), he served as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army, and after the war, he joined the Writing Department of Johns Hopkins University. Moving to Florida in 1953, he taught at Rollins College for two years before joining the faculty of the University of Tampa, retiring in 1976. He specialized in Irish literature, and during the early 1970s headed the university's Humanities Division.


After retirement, Dr. Thompson taught Shakespeare at the Tampa Preparatory School until his death in 1989. He would best be remembered for his teaching and literary contributions. His novel Abraham's Wife focuses on a mixed race marriage between Cubans, the Ybor City section of Tampa, and the War of 1898. According to liner notes on the book jacket, Thompson visited Cuba many times in the 1920s, with his last visit for the purpose of studying at the University of Havana. He drew upon these experiences in creating the Cuban setting for an unpublished sequel, "Abraham's Temptation." From the 1940s through the early 1980s, he reviewed hundreds of novels and non-fiction works for the Baltimore Sun, Roanoke Times, and the Tampa Tribune. He published literary criticism in professional journals, and like many an author, penned numerous articles, anthologies, and novels that remain unpublished. Dr. Thompson collected rare Anglo-Irish imprints and poetry broadsides, and donated substantial portions of these collections to the University of Tampa and the University of South Florida. He and his wife Marjorie spent many summers on extended bicycling vacations, which, along with his other interests, Dr. Thompson recorded in a meticulously detailed daily journal.

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